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bern megrey

BERNARD ANDREW MEGREY was born in 1950 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Along his educational pathway he earned an associate of science degree at Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio (1971), a bachelor of arts degree from Cleveland State University (1974), a masters in environmental science from Miami University, Ohio (1978); and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington (1989).

Bern began working for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center during his doctoral research in 1984. He was assigned to the Groundfish Assessment Group and worked with Miles Alton and L.J. Bledsoe preparing the first stock assessment for the newly discovered walleye pollock fishery in the Gulf of Alaska. His research enabled a team of scientists to provide timely forecasts of abundance and biomass to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and new tools necessary to manage this multi-million dollar fishery. This required innovative analysis of the very short time series that was available. Bern became a permanent employee in August 1987 and was charged with integrating fishery and research vessel assessment data into a more complete assessment procedure to forecast stock size and composition. Later that year he was reassigned to the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) Program where he was responsbile for developing recruitment prediction models and overseeing the analytical personnel within the program.

During his 23-year career with the FOCI Program, Bern showed fisheries scientists how to incorporate early life history and environmental data into fishery recruitment prediction. The Gulf of Alaska recruitment prediction model that he developed for walleye pollock is one of the few predictions that incorporate both environmental and biological data and is based on an underlying mechanistic model. As his career progressed, Bern and his colleagues in FOCI were among the first to use coupled biophysical models to simulate early life history and recruitment of marine fish populations. Adapting an Individual Based Modeling technique, they constructed coupled models (physical oceanography, dynamics of lower trophic levels, and individual fish) to model the first year of life of commercial fish populations. Bern worked tirelessly to improve the application of this technique.

During his tenure, Bern continued to work on recruitment prediction but also broadened his focus from single species to ecosystems. He strongly influenced the scientific community’s approach to ecosystem-based fisheries management through the comparative analysis of marine ecosystems. He collaborated with scientists from the United States, Canada, and Norway to examine the similarities and differences in how the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Barents Seas functioned—all high latitude ecosystems supporting fisheries in various states of health. At the time of his death, Bern was engaged in groundbreaking research to 1) extend his models to the ecosystem (physics to fisheries), 2) incorporate submodels into one integrated software application, and 3) conduct a much needed international model intercomparison project. He co- authored more than 70 peer-reviewed articles.

As a leader in the scientific community, Bern served as a member and officer in the American Fisheries Society (AFS), the Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The AFS recognized Bern’s lifetime achievement in 2009 with the Oscar Elton Sette Award for sustained excellence in marine fishery biology through research, teaching, and administration. Bern served terms as president of the AFS International Fisheries and Computer User Sections. He was a member of the editorial board of the ICES Journal of Marine Science from 2001 to 2007 and most recently a member of the ICES Working Group on Data and Information Management. Within PICES, Bern served as Co-Chairman of the MODEL Task Team of the PICES/GLOBEC Climate Change and Carrying Capacity Program; he led the Marine Ecosystem Model Inter-comparison project; and he was a member of its science board. PICES recently recognized his achievements in creating a central respository of the member countries metadatabases with the PICES Ocean Monitoring Award in 2009. With his ongoing commitment to professional service, Bern spent two months in Washington, D.C. in summer 2010 as the NOAA Fisheries Service’s fisheries liaison for the task group responding to the Deep Water Horizon event.

Bern was gregarious, loved a good party, and was admired and respected by his many colleagues in Seattle and around the world. Concerned with the need to train and cultivate young scientists, Bern enthusiastically embraced new ideas and technologies to advance ecosystem science. Returning from an international meeting, Bern became ill and tragically passed away on 1 October 2010. He is survived by his wife Ronnette, sons Christopher (23) and Nicholas (18), and daughter Sarah (16).

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